WRAP media release - 12 July 2021
Meander Valley Council compelled to hold public meeting
About one year ago, the Meander Valley Council refused to hold a public meeting about the Northern Regional Prison in spite of a petition containing hundreds and hundreds of signatures calling upon it to do so.
The community then rallied to organise a second petition for a public meeting and this time the Council has been compelled to hold one, whether it wants to or not. This second petition contains over 1,000 signatures and has been signed by 5% of the electors in the municipality.
The petition calls for a public meeting about the Northern Regional Prison Proposal in a general sense.
"The Council has tried very hard to pretend it has no role to play in the Northern Regional Prison being located in the Meander Valley, other than as a planning body. This is a blatant misrepresentation. Council is obliged to consult, involve and be accountable to its community under section 20 of the Local Government Act. The community should have been consulted as soon as the Council got wind of the State government's interest in the municipality for the prison in 2017/2018, well before any planning hat was on Council's head.
The Council has offered to meet with Ms Loader and other petitioners to discuss the proposed public meeting before Council deliberates on it tomorrow. Ms Loader agreed to such a meeting on the basis that it could be recorded for transparency. However, Council responded that it did not want the meeting taped.
"Having met "in camera" with Council before, this is not an experience WRAP has wanted to repeat. We are well and truly sick of discussions being held behind closed doors," said Linda Poulton.
Instead, Ms Loader conveyed some points in writing to the Council about the preferable timing and place for the meeting to ensure maximum accessibility and attendance.
It then came as a complete surprise when Council's agenda, released late last week, showed that the General Manager's recommendation to Council is that the public meeting be limited in scope to discussion about the current site only.
"The petition itself calls upon a meeting that canvasses the proposal as a whole, regardless of where within the municipality it may be located. Any Council resolution to limit the subject matter of the meeting in the manner proposed would be completely self-serving, and moreover, invalid. We intend to press for a meeting with a much wider scope".
The Council's ordinary meeting will commence at 3.00pm tomorrow at Council Chambers in Lyall Street, Westbury. WRAP has encouraged people to attend, even though only 7 members of the public are allowed into the Council room at any one time. Media attendance would be welcome.
Spokesperson, WRAP Inc